Kawagoe is a charming historic town in Saitama Prefecture, just a 40-minute train ride northwest from Tokyo. Its preserved Edo era architecture, interesting shrines, and mouth-watering sweet potato-infused foods make it a delightful place to visit for anyone with an interest in Japanese history and tasty treats! In this video we join Marvin as he embarks on the ultimate Kawagoe day trip, exploring sights such as the ancient Hikawa Shrine, the nostalgic warehouse district, and the deliciously tempting Candy Alley.
Because the journey from Tokyo to Kawagoe is so quick and convenient, it's a fantastic choice for a day trip from Tokyo. A former castle town, Kawagoe is well known for its evocative Edo period atmosphere, with preserved buildings and architecture that make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. It’s not just pretty to look at though – there are plenty of fun things to do in Kawagoe, as Marvin finds out during his visit!
He begins by taking a look around Hikawa Jinja, a shrine that dates all the way back to the 6th century and has a towering torii gate that’s 15 meters tall. Hikawa Jinja enshrines the god of marriage, however Marvin chooses to wish for wealth instead when playing a game that involves throwing hoops at the target that represents your desire – take a look at the video to find out if he succeeds or not!
Another fun activity at Hikawa Jinja is to go angling for an omikuji fortune slip contained within a brightly painted koi fish. To see the shrine at its most beautiful though, visit at night when the tunnel of ema (wooden tablets which people write their wishes on and then hang up at the shrine) is lit up to stunning effect.
One of the most famous Kawagoe attractions is the Kurazukuri no Machinami, or kura warehouse district, which is made up of special fire-resistant buildings that are wonderfully nostalgic remnants of Edo Japan. Dominating the skyline is the Toki no Kane bell tower, which was built in 1637 and still chimes four times a day at 9am, midday, 3pm, and 6pm.
No Kawagoe day trip would be complete without a stroll down Kashiya Yokocho, or Candy Alley. It’s lined with authentic stores selling traditional Japanese sweets as well as a store that offers huge breadsticks containing sweet potato, so be sure to keep an eye out for them in the video!
If you’re a sake fan, stop by the Koedo Kurari to sample products from sake vending machines that feature nihonshu from Saitama’s best sake breweries, before tucking into some delicious and unique udon noodles that are colored a vibrant purple thanks to the inclusion of sweet potato!
If you’re unable to make it to Kawagoe, why not join an authentic online Japanese food experience instead?
You can enjoy everything from cooking classes and whisky tastings to food tours and an introduction to Japanese tea from the comfort of your own home. There are options for both group and private experiences, as well as those catering to different dietary requirements, so you’re sure to find something you like the look of!